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What does this mean: "I'll be with you in a minute"? Does it mean "I'll call you after one minute" or "I'll contact you after one minute" or something else?

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If I say it to someone, it tends to mean at some point in the future I may pay attention to you. –  Orbling Dec 8 '10 at 20:53
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It seems to me it can almost be interpreted literally, so long as you substitute for "one minute" an indefinite but short period of time. –  Zach Conn Dec 8 '10 at 21:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Well usually this is used when speaking face-to-face, and is taken to mean

I'm occupied right now, and I'll speak to you in some (short period of) time. 

Not exactly one minute, but a short enough time. Similar usage to "Just a second" or "Gimme a sec"

If on the phone, it should probably mean he'll call back after a minute or so.

Updated:

As @Martha says - On the phone, this would likely mean you should hold. The correct statement if he intends to ring you back would be

"I'll get back to you in a minute". 
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He'll call back or he expects you to wait on the phone for a short while? –  darius Dec 8 '10 at 15:29
    
@darius: could be both - but waiting on the phone could get boring ;) –  JoseK Dec 8 '10 at 16:16

As JoseK said, this is most often used in person, and it means something like "hold on, let me finish this, and then I'll be able to help you/talk to you."

If someone said this to me on the phone, I would definitely interpret it as "please hold", not "I'll call you back", and most certainly not "Please call back in a minute".

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